RingCentral aims to unify ‘unified communications’

I started my career as an analyst in 2001, and one of the first reports I wrote was on the topic of “unified communications,” or UC as it’s more commonly called today. The concept is pretty simple: Workers use lots of communications tools, so why not bring them together into a single, easy-to-use tool? Makes sense, doesn’t it? 

However, a funny thing has happened over the past 15 years. In an effort to give workers more functionality, many specialty UC vendors popped up. I understand the term “specialty UC” is somewhat of an oxymoron, but this is the state of the industry because we now have UC vendors for video, web conferencing, chat, audio conferencing, VoIP, document sharing, file storage and the list goes on. 

The majority of these tools provide other capabilities, so they can, in fact, be thought of as “unified” but most workers need to use a large number of UC tools to collaborate effectively. 

My research shows that the average number of UC applications used on a per-worker basis is somewhere between five and seven, although I’ve seen other studies that have this number slightly higher or lower. In practicality, the real number itself doesn’t matter as much as recognizing the problem. Workers are actually becoming less productive because they spend too much time managing communication tools. 

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